What happened Echo Fox?

Echo Fox was a North American esports organization that competed in various video game titles. The organization was founded in 2015 by former NBA player Rick Fox and was one of the major early organizations involved in professional League of Legends. However, in 2019, Echo Fox lost its franchise spot in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and ceased operations amid internal turmoil and controversy. Here is an in-depth look at the rise and fall of Echo Fox.

The Founding of Echo Fox

In late 2015, Rick Fox, a three-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, announced he was launching his own esports organization called Echo Fox. Fox invested millions of dollars of his own money into the organization and attracted additional outside investors. The goal was to build a top-tier esports team from the ground up.

Echo Fox started out by signing high-profile players and teams in a variety of competitive games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mortal Kombat X, and H1Z1. But the organization’s biggest bet was on League of Legends, which was rapidly growing into the most popular esport in the world.

Acquiring a League of Legends Spot

In May 2016, Echo Fox paid $1 million to acquire the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) spot previously held by Gravity Gaming. This secured Echo Fox a franchise position in the premier North American League of Legends competition.

With Fox’s financial resources and NBA connections, Echo Fox was able to attract top-tier League of Legends talent right from the start. Their first LCS roster featured stars like Froggen, Keith, and Hard. The organization made it clear that they were willing to spend big money to build a contending League of Legends team.

Early Success

During the first few years after its founding, Echo Fox found quick success across multiple esports titles.

  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Echo Fox signed top professional players including Mew2King and Leffen.
  • The organization’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team claimed victory at the Americas Minor Championship in 2016.
  • Echo Fox’s fighting game players like Justin Wong and SonicFox were perennial top competitors.

However, League of Legends remained Echo Fox’s flagship esport. In the 2017 NA LCS Spring regular season, Echo Fox finished in second place with an impressive 13-5 match record. There was a sense that the organization was quickly becoming a powerhouse in the North American League scene under Rick Fox’s ownership.

Initial Signs of Trouble

Despite Echo Fox’s early esports successes, there were already signs of dysfunction brewing behind the scenes in the organization’s first few years of existence.

High Player Turnover

One red flag was the extremely high turnover rate among Echo Fox’s League of Legends players. Between 2016 and 2019, nearly 40 different players came through Echo Fox’s LCS and Academy rosters. Very few players remained on the team for more than a split or two.

Frequent roster moves are not uncommon in esports, but the sheer volume of changes at Echo Fox pointed to deeper issues around management and team culture.

Declining LCS Results

After their initial burst of success, Echo Fox’s results in the LCS also began trending downwards. They still made playoffs most splits, but failed to claim any LCS titles and started finishing middle-of-the-pack more often than not.

As other organizations like Team Liquid, Cloud9, and TSM built stronger coaching staff and support infrastructure around their League teams, Echo Fox struggled to keep pace. Their spot near the top of the LCS began to slip.

Investor Troubles

Behind the scenes, Echo Fox was experiencing major issues with one of its key investors named Amit Raizada. Racist emails from Raizada were leaked in 2019 that contained offensive remarks aimed at another major Echo Fox investor named Jace Hall.

This sparked a chain reaction of lawsuits between Echo Fox shareholders. As the organization became mired in litigation, most of Echo Fox’s major partners withdrew from sponsorship deals.

The Racism Controversy

In April 2019, an extensive exposé published by Richard Lewis at Dexerto revealed a host of disgusting racist comments made by Amit Raizada, who was one of Echo Fox’s original investors.

Raizada had sent emails to other Echo Fox shareholders that referred to Jace Hall, who is African-American, using profoundly offensive racist slurs. He also insulted Hall’s wife and child.

When these emails came to light, it created huge shockwaves across the esports industry. Sponsors immediately began to distance themselves from Echo Fox in light of the racism scandal.

Sponsors Pull Out

Major brand sponsors like HyperX, Twin Galaxies, Vision Gaming, and Kia Motors America all confirmed they were parting ways with Echo Fox in the wake of the racism revelations. Rick Fox himself released a statement condemning Raizada’s abhorrent comments.

But the damage was already done. Despite Fox’s efforts to resolve the situation, Echo Fox was hemorrhaging partnerships. This came at the worst possible time, just a few months before franchise applications were due for the newly restructured LCS.

Loss of LCS Franchising Spot

In summer 2019, Echo Fox’s LCS franchise application was officially declined by Riot Games. There is widespread belief that the rejection was directly tied to the racism scandal and loss of sponsors.

For the first time since 2016, Echo Fox would have no team in the League of Legends Championship Series moving forward. The organization attempted to sell their LCS slot to Kroenke Sports & Entertainment in a last-ditch effort to remain involved with League of Legends, but Riot blocked the sale.

Following their LCS rejection, on October 21st, 2019, Echo Fox announced they were formally leaving all competitive esports and ceasing operations.

Aftermath and Legacy

The collapse of Echo Fox stands as cautionary tale of how deeply-rooted cultural problems at an esports organization can fester and eventually destroy even well-funded businesses.

Rick Fox’s association with the racism scandal continues to tarnish his reputation years later. Though Fox himself did not make the offensive remarks, he faced criticism for not properly vetting Echo Fox’s investors and addressing the toxicity sooner.

However, Echo Fox also had a lasting positive impact on the esports landscape. They were true pioneers when it came to attracting outside investors, particularly from traditional sports backgrounds. Echo Fox helped demonstrate to the business world that esports could be a viable investment opportunity.

The organization also developed a reputation for taking chances on up-and-coming talent across multiple games. Many players and coaches got their first big breaks in esports by signing with Echo Fox.

While Echo Fox itself collapsed rapidly amid chaos, the passion that Rick Fox brought as an original esports organization owner inspired many others to follow in his footsteps. But hopefully future owners will also learn from Echo Fox’s fatal mistakes and work quickly to stamp out toxicity before it destroys their organizations too.

Frequently Asked Questions

When was Echo Fox founded?

Echo Fox was founded in late 2015 by former NBA player Rick Fox.

What games did Echo Fox have pro teams for?

Echo Fox fielded pro teams and players across games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mortal Kombat X, and H1Z1.

How did Echo Fox get their LCS franchise spot?

Echo Fox purchased the spot from Gravity Gaming for $1 million in May 2016, shortly after the team was founded.

Who were some of Echo Fox’s major sponsors?

Key sponsors included HyperX, Twin Galaxies, Vision Gaming, Kia Motors America, and many more. But most sponsors pulled out after the racism scandal.

Why did Echo Fox lose their LCS spot?

Echo Fox was denied an LCS franchise position for the 2020 season by Riot Games after their high-profile racism controversy led to loss of sponsors.

When did Echo Fox shut down?

Echo Fox ceased operations and closed its doors on October 21, 2019.


The rise and explosive downfall of Echo Fox will be remembered as one of the most impactful stories in the early history of esports. Their rapid growth demonstrated the massive potential for outside investment in pro gaming. But the racism scandal also highlighted how toxic culture can swiftly bring down even major organizations.

Echo Fox changed the esports landscape forever. But ultimately, the organization collapsed under the weight of its internal problems. The entire saga serves as a learning experience for team owners and investors about just how carefully a company’s culture and backers must be vetted.

While Echo Fox itself met an unfortunate demise, Rick Fox’s bold leap into esports ownership opened the floodgates. So despite its inglorious end, Echo Fox’s influence will continue shaping the esports industry for years to come.

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